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As human beings we are hungry for meaning. We desperately want and need to feel as though we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter. What frustrates us and throws us out of balance is the absence of meaning. Which brings us to wonder, does our being here matter?
I believe that health clubs, as organizations, are no different than people. No matter if they are low-cost and high-volume gyms, or expensive boutique clubs, they all need to have a purpose or a meaning to reach their fullest potential — existentially as well as financially.
Having a purpose in life makes it easier for people to strive to be consistently better day in and day out. Clubs that have a mission and a vision are no different. The positive core values, mutual accountability and constant striving for self-improvement helps one to be a better person, and the same set of expectations allows a group of people to run a better health club.
That being said, I believe that every company should have a mission statement, vision statement and tagline or slogan. Not only because they create a meaning and a purpose for the organization. They also lay out a tangible set of standards, expectations and goals for employees to strive for and members to expect.
The difference between a mission statement, a vision statement and a tagline or slogan is as much in the purpose as it is in the audience it is designed for.
A mission statement defines the organization’s purpose and primary objectives. Its prime function is internal — to define the key measure or measures of the organization’s success — and its prime audience is the leadership team and stockholders. Just look at Disneyland’s mission statement: “To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”
A vision statement also defines the organization’s purpose, but this time it does so in terms of the organization’s values or guiding beliefs, not in bottom-line measurements. It is meant to motivate and inspire. The vision statement communicates both the purpose and values of the organization. For employees, it gives direction about how they are expected to behave and inspires them to give their best. It shapes the customer’s understanding of why they should work with the organization and what they should expect. Disneyland’s vision statement is short, but powerful: “To make people happy!”
The tagline or slogan is a quick, but equally powerful phrase that is associated with your company name. It represents the tone and feeling you want associated with your services. It should be part of the marketing campaign and be included in all of your company’s graphics, logos and letterhead. It stays with you all the time. Disneyland’s tagline: “The happiest place on Earth.”
These statements, slogans and taglines don’t predict the future — they create it. Without them, a business is like a ship without a rudder and is in danger of drifting aimlessly. So many clubs constantly get caught up in day-to-day tasks without a clear understanding of what needs to bond individual actions and re-actions together. As a result, they lose sight of where they are headed and what they are working for.
Your statements, which represent your purpose and your values, should always be front and center at your club. You might even consider having them hang on a wall, where they’ll be clearly visible to all of your employees, as well as to your members. Let them become the cornerstone of the organization — its purpose or meaning. It lets the employees know that every decision they make and every action they take will be tested and judged against these documents, and it shapes the customers’ understanding of why they should work with the organization.
Your statements create the framework and inspiration for your club purpose and fuse the relationship between vision and action.
Eric Claman owned two clubs in Torrington, Connecticut, before selling both and accepting a consulting job at Twin Oaks Software Development in 2011. He can be reached at 866.278.6750 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit healthclubsoftware.com.